Former Nationalist MP calls for new liberal democratic movement

In 2011, former MP Jean Pierre Farrugia had prophetically warned that a loss in the 2013 election would result in ‘serious infighting leaving the PN in shambles’

Former PN MP Jean Pierre Farrugia
Former PN MP Jean Pierre Farrugia

Former Nationalist MP Jean Pierre Farrugia is calling for the creation of a new liberal democratic political movement after the PN’s third consecutive electoral drubbing.

Farrugia, who had also been president of the PN’s executive, had criticised the party’s shift to the right during the Gonzi administration and retired from politics after failing to get re-elected in the 2013 election.

Prophetically, Farrugia had warned Gonzi in an email sent in 2011, which was copied to the parliamentary group, that “losing heavily at the polls in three years could result in serious infighting leaving the PN in shambles”.

In a Facebook post after Saturday’s election Farrugia reacted to Labour’s resounding victory by calling on the thousands who “really believe in liberal democracy” and who “never trusted Labour’s autocracy” to form a new movement.

The aim of this movement according to the former MP is to prevent Malta from becoming a “one party state like Putin’s Russia.”

The former MP reached this conclusion after describing the crisis faced by the Nationalist Party as “an existential one”.  

According to the former MP, the PN reached its peak by winning 146,172 votes out of a total of 297,930 votes in the 2003 election by winning support from “those who never supported the PN” but supported EU membership.

“Today, after a political assassination and institutionalized corruption from 355,075 votes, the PN won 123,233 votes,” Farrugia wrote.

At the roots of the existential problem faced by the PN according to Farrugia is the “conservatism of the grass roots,” which he describes as “the struggle of their life.”

Farrugia, a popular family doctor from Floriana was one of the voices on the left of the Nationalist Party who loyally criticized the Gonzi administration.  

Speaking to MaltaToday in 2009 he called on his party to stop and think of its identity, after so many years in government. “Unfortunately, this soul searching isn’t going on,” he warned.

He insisted at the time that the soul-searching exercise had even been made more urgent by the global economic downturn “because it is in moments like these that the people can really judge the party’s social credentials.” While describing himself as a “Christian democrat” he also insisted that the party should not be confessional.

“I am a Christian Democrat and a Catholic. But I am not a Christian Democrat because I am a Catholic. I am a Christian Democrat because I believe that through politics one should give equal opportunities to all… adhering to moral conservatism does not make the Nationalist Party a Christian-democratic party,” Farrugia had said.

During the tumultuous Gonzi legislature, Farrugia had criticized the €600 weekly increase in ministers’ salaries and the subsequent increase in MPs' honoraria, noting that this was done one month after he was told that there was no money to increase the supplementary aid to families in need.

Farrugia had also chaired a parliamentary committee on IVF, which had proposed embryo freezing, an option, which was later, ruled out by the conservative administration.

 “There is always human life but one cannot compare an embryo to a 24-week foetus whose features are fully recognizable,” Farrugia said in an interview with MaltaToday.

In the same interview Farrugia denounced the “shift to the right which has rendered the Nationalist Party unrecognisable”. When asked whether the Nationalist Party is the same party it was in the past, he had replied with an emphatic and painful “no”.

“When resigning from the party three years ago Carmel Cacopardo said that he could not recognise the party anymore. I am still hoping that it will recover its identity. I understand that the party is a broad church but we can’t forget those values which shaped our party,” Farrugia had said.

The former MP is now calling for a new political movement that breaks away from the PN’s conservativism and which could posit itself as an alternative to the Labour Party.

Whether his appeal will fall on fertile ground remains to be seen but it joins the many voices within and outside the PN that are calling for a radical shake up.